Diet Guide for fat loss, muscle gains, disease prevention and overall health - Part 4 - Stop eating these!


Like I mentioned in the introductory post of this diet guide, this is a tough regimen to follow for some, and in this post you will realise why.

It can take several months to get your gut microbiome back into a balanced state (and for some, even years). When your gut has the right bacteria (and being devoid of the bad ones), your body is essentially a well-oiled machine. Your metabolism has a great boost, your immune system is robust, you're able to lose weight and build muscle with ease (and maintain a lean, muscular figure in the long term), your insulin sensitivity is superb, there's no more inflammation, you have improved brain function, and the risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer are really low or close to none.

Unfortunately, processed foods, junk foods, animal fats, refined oils, sugars and sweeteners can undo all the above in just one meal! So following something like the 80/20 diet (80% healthy foods, 20% junk food), or counting calories alone without watching WHAT you eat, or even if you eat healthy most of the week and only have a "cheat meal" on the weekends, can negatively disrupt your gut microbiota in a big way, and it doesn't matter if you're eating crappy foods on the daily, or once a while, according to studies. Truth is, having a rigid diet 6 days a week only to destroy it with pizza, donuts and/or alcohol on the weekend is plain sabotage. 

I know the truth hurts, but if you really care about reversing or preventing disease, and have a great functioning body where you can still eat in abundance without gaining weight, then you will have to forget certain "foods" exist. But that's ok, our bodies weren't meant to consume those anyways. We've been on this planet 2.5 million years, these industrialized food products are fairly new to the human body. So trust me when I say, you won't die if you cut them out of your diet indefinitely. On the contrary, this kind of abstinence will bring you longevity in good health instead. And as you've read in my last post, there's still plenty of food to be had (and you can eat until you're full without counting calories, how awesome is that?).

So let's get this going:

Processed meats:

  • Bacon
  • Sausages
  • Salami
  • Luncheon meat
  • Hot dogs
  • Pepperoni
  • Beef Jerky
  • Ham and other cold cuts and deli meats
When I was trying to fix my PCOS, I found processed meat to negatively influence my hormones in the worst possible way. Also, processed meats and especially their fats (and any other "leftovers" that are often in sausages etc) are the main cause for cancer and heart disease. They should be avoided like the plague and never to be touched again. Stick to lean and unprocessed meats.

Pork of any form

I know Americans and Brits must be hating me for telling them to abandon their favorite bacon, but there's a good reason why billions of Muslims and Jews avoid "the flesh of the swine" and eat only animals that "cheweth the cud" (as pigs have no problem eating human corpses and feces, unlike the rest of the animals that graze on grass). Even the Mediterranean diet here in Europe doesn't include as much red meat as the SAD (Standard American Diet) does (in fact, most of our protein is from legumes, nuts, dairy, and fish, some chicken, with mostly lamb and beef as the occasional red meat).

You will also find many other cultures where they thrive in longevity and/or staying disease-free (like the Hunza for instance, or the Hadza hunter-gatherer tribe) where they consume mostly a plant-based diet, with the occasional meat in the most unprocessed form.

From increasing inflammation, fevers and infections in the body, to hepatitis B, to colon and liver cancer, to multiple sclerosis, to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, pork is the absolute worst.

Refined oils

I'll keep this real simple for you: The most heart healthy, minimally processed oil you can use in your cooking is extra virgin olive oil. In my country, we knew about the heart benefits of EVOO and consumption of a handful of olives daily before research studies were a thing.

Fried foods with refined cooking oils can cause heart disease, diabetes, cancer, immune dysfunction, obesity, etc. While omega 3 fatty acids are good for us, excess intake of omega 6 fatty acids and trans fats leads to chronic inflammation (hence the above list of diseases they cause). Most of these processed vegetable oils are chemically extracted and altered, making them basically a slow poison.

List of refined oils to avoid:

  • Palm oil
  • Any product that mentions the word "hydrogenated" on the label
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Coconut oil (even if you get it "extra virgin", it's not regulated as it is with olive oil. In several studies, coconut oil was shown to raise bad (LDL) cholesterol. If you want the benefits of the coconut, eat the real fruit instead (or the fibrous one-seeded drupe, as the botanists call it). Unfortunately, in terms of health and food processing, coconut oil doesn't even compare with olive oil. Stick to eating the coconut meat, drink the coconut water, or even have it dried / shredded if it doesn't contain any sugars / preservatives)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Refined avocado oil, walnut oil or any other nut and seed oils that are refined (using chemical solvents) or adulterated (check your labels, sometimes when you think you're getting avocado oil could be nothing but soybean oil. There are no quality standards for these oils, so be mindful when you're purchasing).

Processed sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, processed thickeners

The only "sugar" that actually reduces insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar, lowers the glycemic effects of other foods, is great for our gut microbiome, and more is honey (stay tuned for a post about how and why it's safe and recommended to consume on a daily basis).

A lot of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners do more damage to our gut microbiome, heart and insulin / blood sugar levels than actual table sugar! (A post is long overdue on explaining the exact dangers of each, stay tuned).

And unfortunately, they're everywhere, not just in candy. They're in packaged foods, fast food, yogurt, chewing gum, dips and sauces, peanut butter, bread, low-fat / low calorie foods, drinks (diet sodas etc), animal product replacements for vegans (think: vegan burger patties, plant-based milk etc) some dried fruits, supplements and medication (think: cough syrup, chewable vitamin C tablets, protein powders, preworkouts, gas relievers etc). This is why the easiest way to get rid of it is to eat real, unprocessed foods: lean meat, unsweetened full-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds etc. If you MUST have something that comes in a package (dairy, nut butters, sliced bread etc) check the ingredients label.

There are so many hidden "sugars" in so many foods and even medication, and with so many different names it can be hard to know what constitutes a healthy supplement or a healthy processed food. And unfortunately, this post is already getting long, so I will make a separate post on a comprehensive (but perhaps not exhaustive) list of the different names of sugars, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners and substitutes to avoid. 

If you stick to organic, whole foods (unprocessed), then you'll be fine. For instance, instead of buying Skippy peanut butter, or the PB2 peanut butter powder (where it's highly processed as they strip out the fat, and then they add sugars to it), you can aim for organic and 100% peanut butter (meaning the only ingredient is the peanuts, and you can tell by the oil separation).

Unnecessary medication / supplements

I see many vegans AND carnivores preaching about how their diets are how humans used to live (yet they're both so different from each other), and then claiming that needing vitamin supplementation (and other stuff) is "normal" and "part of being a vegan / carnivore". 
If your diet causes malnutrition to the point where you need to supplement, it's NOT normal, and it's NOT a sustainable diet. 
Furthermore, MANY supplements are filled with crap ingredients like maltodextrin (read the next section) so whatever you were trying to avoid with your overly restrictive diet, you're getting it through your supplements. Furthermore, there is such a thing as hypervitaminosis (vitamin toxicity). And, furthermore, those synthetic vitamins and minerals, no matter how high the dosage, are nowhere near as good as those from real foods (even if they're at a lot less quantity in the real food), because your body absorbs nutrients better when they come in their natural form. Also, the whole aim to fix your gut microbiome is to be able to absorb and process the nutrients better, therefore you'll be able to do more with less (such as building muscle more efficiently with less protein consumption).

Other ultra-processed foods

I was listening to a podcast the other day, with a so-called doctor, nurse? I don't remember but she said she had experience working with patients in hospitals for several decades. Now she was scoffing at people for eating meat and dairy and how "it's not natural for humans to consume dead things" and milk from other animals.
5 minutes into the podcast, this lady starts recommending a brand that makes the "most delicious vegan, gluten free pizza, which you can just take out of the box and have it ready in the microwave in just 2 minutes" and my first thought was "oh, that's natural now, is it?" and then my second thought was, what are the ingredients in that pizza? 
So I looked it up. Here's some of my red flags on these so-called "vegan, natural, healthy" pizzas:
  • Sugar
  • Refined oils (several on this pizza actually: safflower, canola oil, coconut oil etc)
  • Several different flours (rice etc)
  • "Vegan natural flavors", when it's vague like that, you never know what that means, it's a giant loophole in the regulations where manufacturers are allowed to say "natural flavors" when in reality they could be artificial and with harmful chemicals. Sugar could possibly be considered "vegan natural flavor", which is extremely harmful and not at all needed in a freaking pizza, yet that one is stated separately.
  • Maltodextrin (causes blood sugar spikes (high in the glycemic index), and alters the gut microbiome by suppressing probiotics and increasing pathogens, including enhancing the survival of salmonella bacteria, and can be a cause for IBD and other inflammatory conditions)
  • several added colors to the "plant-based cheese, sausages" and other "vegan-substitute" toppings
  • haven't seen anywhere about any of the ingredients being organic either
So this doctor was complaining about dairy and meat affecting gut microbiome and increasing disease (without taking account whether the aforementioned dairy and meat was grass-fed, organic, unprocessed, lean etc, just generalizing), yet 5 minutes later, she promotes a highly ultra-processed manufactured fake pizza with fake sausages, fake cheese, fake everything, filled with sugar and refined oils, and also probably full of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics (yes, antibiotics are used in plants too, not just in animal products).

If that's natural, I wish I was a robot and fed on electrical current. This is why in my previous post, I insist on unprocessed foods and organic products, it doesn't matter if it's meat, fish, dairy, or plant-based. 
My kids' homemade pizza with wheat crust, pure organic tomato pulp and organic mozzarella cheese is a lot healthier, less processed and can count the ingredients on one hand (the other ingredients are fresh organic basil leaves as a topping, and some salt and EVOO in the dough for the base). It even contains several hundred calories LESS than the vegan pizza (300 calories for the whole pizza vs 400 for a 1/3 of the vegan pizza!).

Do you now see why I'm always about organic whole foods instead of industrialized ultra-processed junk with misleading labels like "vegan", "low-fat" etc?

Your answer is not CICO, is not low carb, is not low fat, is not keto, is not carnivore, is not vegan. It's cutting out all the poisonous crap from your life, for good. It truly is as simple as that.

I am NOT a doctor, personal trainer, registered dietician, nutritionist, athlete, influencer, nor at the end of my fitness journey. The content of this blog is based on what worked for me and is for informational purposes only, not a replacement for medical advice from a professional. Furthermore, we and our bodies are unique, so everybody is different. My results may not reflect your own. Any action you take upon the information provided by ZenGainz is strictly at your own risk.

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